By EditorJax <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: January 2008
Summary: Set after the episode "Season's Greedings," when Lois finds herself alone on New Year's Eve, a special visitor may be just what she needs to ring in the new year with newfound clarity about her relationship with Clark -- and Superman.
Her feet propped on her desk and a half-eaten bag of holiday M&Ms in her lap, Lois Lane cast yet another plaintive look at the clock.
Good. Another minute had passed, bringing her countdown to 63 minutes.
In 33 minutes, she would be able to go home, and in 63 minutes, this year would finally be over.
With a disgusted sigh, she mentally catalogued the last 12 months. The Planet being blown up, and then closed. Her aborted wedding to Lex. His crazed ex-wife creating a clone of her. Countless attempts on her life. Her streak of three-consecutive Kerth Awards coming to an abrupt end -- at the volition of her partner, no less. And worst of all, too many tears to count.
The newsroom was still decorated for Christmas, but Lois couldn't help feeling more alone than usual as she stood up to wander listlessly among the colorful garlands and boughs of holly.
In 60 -- make that 59 -- minutes, it would all be over. The decorations would be packed away and they would return to the real world, where days weren't marked by Secret Santa exchanges and tree-trimming parties.
Lois hadn't always had such a negative attitude toward Christmas. She loved it when she was nine, and Santa brought her and Lucy a dollhouse. She loved it when she was ten, the year her father hired a horse-drawn sleigh to take them through snowy Centennial Park. She loved it when she eleven, and she donned angel wings to sing the solo in the school Christmas pageant.
And she hated it when she was twelve. When her father left, her mother drank, and she had to spend her life savings to buy a tree so she wouldn't have to see her little sister cry.
What a difference a year made.
Lois was grown up now, but her attitude toward the holidays hadn't changed. Inside, she was the same little girl standing at the window, wishing for the Santa she no longer believed in to heal the broken pieces of her family.
But this year ... this year had been different, she mused, casting a wistful glance toward Clark's empty desk.
She wasn't sure what meant more; that Clark had helped her pick out and decorate her first grown-up Christmas tree, or that he had come to spend the holiday with her.
When he showed up at her door, claiming his flight to Smallville had been snowed in, a small part of her hadn't believed him. But she had been so happy to see him that for one night, she shelved her questions and just enjoyed the company of the man who had become her best friend.
Now, she wandered over to his desk and picked up the framed photo of the two of them with Clark's first Kerth Award.
She would be lying to herself if she didn't admit that she had been affected when they held hands at her window and watched the snow fall from the moonlit sky on Christmas.
And that she wished he were here tonight.
He had been scheduled to work the same shift, but when she had pointed out that New Year's Eve was traditionally quiet on the news front and that surely the airlines had given him a free ticket to make up for his canceled flight the week before, he agreed to go see his parents. But only after asking if she would be okay about a hundred times.
Now, she wished she had never made the suggestion, and that he was there to tally how many M&Ms she could catch in her mouth and tease her about counting the ones that bounced off her lip and landed on the floor.
Anything would be better than sitting here alone, listening to the police scanner, writing a meaningless 12-inch story about a fire in an abandoned warehouse, and counting down the minutes until 1994 was finally over.
She looked at the clock again. 54 minutes and counting.
Martha Kent leaned back in her chair, her arms folded, as she watched her only son stare into a cup of mulled cider as if it held the answers to the world's great secrets.
Clark was brooding.
Feeling her gaze on him, he looked up. "Mom? Is something wrong?"
Martha gestured around the Irigs' brightly lit barn where the general population of Smallville was eating, drinking and dancing as they prepared to ring in 1995. "You tell me."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Clark, you're not fooling anyone."
He snuck a look at his watch before replying. "I'm fine."
Martha smiled. "How many minutes until midnight in Metropolis?"
"Oh, Mom, I don't ..." his voice trailed off and he shrugged. "26 now."
"Go home, Clark."
"Mom!" He flushed a little. "I'm having a good time."
His mother chuckled. "It doesn't take a genius to know that you're thousands of miles away, Clark, and I'd venture to guess it's The Daily Planet's newsroom. You should have just brought her."
He sighed. "I couldn't."
"So you'll bring her next year," Martha continued as if she hadn't heard him. "But that doesn't mean tonight has to be a total loss."
"Mom, I'm enjoying myself. Really."
With a gentle smile, she laid her hand over her son's. "Go see her, Clark."
"And how am I supposed to explain being home?"
She shrugged. "You're a smart guy."
"But I don't want to lead her on," he protested. A pained look on his face, he hastened to explain what had been on his mind for weeks, "Not as Superman. I can't do that to her, Mom."
"Do you want to regret not seeing her tonight?"
He sat there in silence, mulling over the question to which he already knew the answer. Could he really fly back to Metropolis and see Lois?
After several long moments, he pushed back his chair and came around the table to kiss his mother's cheek. "Happy New Year, Mom. Will you tell Dad I said goodbye?"
"Of course, Honey." She winked. "Good luck."
Lois shivered as she stepped into her cold apartment. The holiday traffic downtown had made her trip home longer than usual, and now a mere 10 minutes remained until the start of 1995.
She flipped on the light and tossed her coat on the couch before turning to the three days worth of mail she had finally picked up. Telephone bill, American Journalism Review, Christmas card from her cousin.
She was surprised to hear a tapping sound and looked up from her credit-card bill to see Superman outside her living-room window. Her face broke into a smile as she waved, inviting him inside.
"Hi," she said a bit breathlessly, setting the mail down. "What are you up to?"
"I was flying by and I noticed your light was on. No New Year's plans?"
She shook her head. "I just got home from work."
He glanced at the clock behind her. "It's not midnight yet."
"What do you mean?"
He took a step toward her and held out his hand. "Are you busy now?"
Holding Lois securely in his arms, Clark slowed in the air above Hobbs Bay just as the first burst of red sparkles illuminated the sky. "Good, we made it."
Lois looked impressed. "Wow, what a view."
And she meant it. She had never seen fireworks *below* her.
"I've seen fireworks in cities all over the world, but these are some of the best."
She couldn't help smiling at his enthusiasm. "I didn't think you were into holidays."
He shrugged. "There's something about New Year's ... I don't know ... it's a clean slate. A new beginning."
"A new beginning." She pondered his words. "I like that." She was quiet for a moment before adding, "I think we all deserve that chance."
He was about to say something when he felt her tremble in his arms.
"Are you cold?"
"A little," she admitted, adding quickly, "but I don't want to go home."
Against his better judgment, he pulled her close against his body, enveloping her in his cape.
He looked down at her, his voice soft. "Better?"
She nodded wordlessly as they drifted among the stars.
They stayed that way for several moments, watching the fireworks, and it wasn't until Clark felt Lois rest her head against his chest and sigh contentedly that he snapped back to reality. This was exactly what he didn't want, and what he wanted more than anything, all at the same time.
As a burst of silver sparkles illuminated the bay, she softly murmured, "How beautiful."
"It is," he agreed softly, but he wasn't looking at the fireworks.
Lois seemed to sense the dual meaning of his words, and she looked up at him, a shy smile on her face. "So, Superman," she asked, a bit nervously, "do you make any New Year's resolutions?"
His first impulse was to tell her that his resolution was to quit lying, and follow it up by admitting that he was Superman, but he couldn't bring himself to ruin the moment. So he just smiled and shrugged. "It's always the same ... keep trying to make a difference."
She nodded knowingly. "So you're one of those types."
He raised his eyebrows. "Types?"
"The type who keeps their resolution every year."
He couldn't help but laugh. "Well, Lois, it's not exactly cut and dry. If I don't keep my resolution, people ... kind of ... die."
She laughed, too. "Good point."
She blushed a little. "Every year, I say I'm going to eat less chocolate, and every year, I cave by January second."
"Maybe you need a new resolution."
Her eyes widened in appreciation as a multi-colored shower of sparks lit up the obsidian sky and she pondered his suggestion for a moment. "Maybe I do."
"Why not resolve to relax more? You work harder than anyone I know."
"Coming from Superman, I'll take that as a compliment."
He smiled. "It is. And I mean it. You should take the time to enjoy the finer things in life, Lois."
"You sound like Clark."
Clark. For some inexplicable reason, the mere mention of his name caused her heart to skip a beat. He had crossed her mind at various intervals of the evening, and she wasn't sure why. Surely, the holidays weren't turning her into the kind of sentimental sap she detested.
No, it was something else. Something she wasn't willing to admit.
"Clark's a smart guy," he said, a hint of a smile crossing his lips.
"He's not bad for a farmboy from Nowheresville," she admitted, before quickly adding, "but don't tell him I said so."
"I won't," he promised, trying to ignore the grating little voice in the back of his head that warned him he was treading on dangerous ground. "So ... where is Clark tonight?"
"Smallville," she said matter-of-factly, but with what appeared to be a touch of regret. "He couldn't make it for Christmas, so he went to spend New Year's with his family." She looked like she wanted to say more, but couldn't bring herself to actually do it.
"Are you two OK?" There was that voice again, urgently telling him to discontinue his line of questioning immediately, but he just couldn't.
"We're fine," she assured him. "Actually," she added faintly, "I miss him."
There. She had said it.
And then she realized who she had said it to, and a look of abject horror crossed her face.
"I mean at work," she backpedaled at a speed just shy of superhuman. "It was just really ... quiet ... you know ... the newsroom, I mean ... the holidays ... and all." She finished her nonsensical speech and took a deep breath. "Resolutions, right?"
He hid a smile. "Right."
She smiled, almost to herself. "I resolve ... to be open to new possibilities."
"New possibilities," he repeated slowly. "That sounds good, Lois. And I wish you luck in keeping your resolution."
A low giggle escaped. "You too."
They continued to drift along in a comfortable silence, watching the fireworks as they faded to smoky streaks in the sky.
And then all too suddenly, Lois found herself snuggling against Clark as he soared through the cold night air and descended through her open window.
"That was amazing," she said softly as he set her on her feet in the middle of her living room. "Thank you so much for sharing it with me."
"I'm so glad you enjoyed it," he replied, a bit more huskily than he had intended.
Time seemed to stand still as they looked into each other's eyes.
Clark finally broke the silence. "I better go." He flashed a reserved smile. "Goodnight, Lois."
He was almost to the window when Lois called softly, "Superman, wait."
He turned around to see her approaching, a shy smile on her face. Before he knew what was happening, she leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips.
"Happy New Year, Superman."
"Happy New Year, Lois."
And then he was gone.
It was shortly after 12:45 when Clark returned home from his nightly patrol. The city had fallen quiet soon after the midnight revelry ended, but he knew sleep wouldn't come easily.
Not tonight. Not with Lois on his mind.
The cool scent of cucumber oil continued to permeate his senses, and when he closed his eyes, he could feel her lips pressing against his.
But that wasn't even what had gotten to him so badly.
Her soft words repeated in his mind over and over again. "I miss him."
Lois had gone flying with Superman -- and said she missed Clark.
And as a result, he had nearly dropped her in shock. She missed *him*.
She missed *Clark*. Not that she'd ever admit it to him.
He felt dizzy in a way that only Kryptonite could evoke. Or so he'd thought.
He spun into a pair of sweatpants and a gray t-shirt and went to get a glass of water. As he passed through the living room, he noticed the light on his answering machine was flashing.
Mom, he figured with a smile as he jabbed at the button en route to the kitchen. She no doubt wanted to find out how his evening had ended.
"Hi Clark ..."
He froze at the sound of a voice that definitely wasn't his mother's.
"It's me ... Lois." He smiled at that. "I ... I know you're in Smallville and you won't even be back until tomorrow, but ... I ... I wanted to call and wish you Happy New Year. It counts since it's only ..." She paused, undoubtedly to look at her watch. "It's only about twenty after midnight.... Anyway, I hope you had a good time with your family, and I, uh ..." He heard her take a deep breath. "I miss you, Clark..." She paused again. "I'll probably see you before you even hear this, so ... bye."
He stood there, barely breathing.
She had said it. To him. *Clark*.
A slow smile crossed his face.
Author's note: This is a 2007 Holiday Ficathon story written for LaraMoon. She requested a story from the first or second season that included Superman, a kiss and someone having to make a difficult decision.